Celebrating Sabbath in the Island Nations Near the Dateline

The following list of documents has been provided to assist Church members as they struggle with the issues brought about by recent changes to the position of the International Date Line (IDL)

The following series of short papers gives an overview of the main points of the discussion to date. In addition, there are a few longer papers from the “pioneer missionaries” who have been a part of this discussion from the beginning.


1. Why the Church Decided As It Did

A brief theological overview giving a rationale for its position on Sabbath observance in Samoa, Tonga, Wallis and Futuna, and the Phoenix and Line Islands (on the far eastern extremity of the nation of Kiribati), including: its commitment to the Sabbath and to the Lord of the Sabbath; its recognition of the Sabbath as sanctified time; its consistent practice of worshipping on the same seventh day; and that the Sabbath is determined by sunset as it moves over the land.

Download and Read

2. Theological Aspects of Sabbath Observance

A consideration of Seventh-day Adventist identity, the Sabbath being a sign of the relationship between God and His people. There is much more to being an Adventist than just observing the Sabbath.

Download and Read

3. How the Sabbath is determined

What is it that determines when a person observes Sabbath; the geographic location or personal experience? This paper gives some reasons why the Sabbath is not tied to an individual's travel, but to the land, and the passing of the sun across it.

Download and Read

4. The Seventh Day

An examination of the numbering of weekdays and the sequence of days in the week. This affects our approach to a change in the weekly cycle and ensures we celebrate the Sabbath when it continues to come every seventh day.

Download and Read

5. The Sabbath: Variable or Absolute

A comparison between things that are variable (like the dateline, preferences for worship music, what to wear to church and how to pray), compared with absolutes (like God and His love, God’s Law and the Sabbath).

Download and Read

6. The Role of the Church

The Biblical role of the church in decisions on matters of faith and practice. This paper gives some examples from Scripture and history the role of the church in deciding on contentious issues.

Download and Read

7. Background to the Change

A brief account of the beginning of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Samoa, the situation in Tonga, and the statement formulated by SPD in anticipation of future Sabbath anomalies.

Download and Read

8. Sabbath Observance and the Church Manual

An explanation of the role of the Church Manual in Seventh-day Adventist Church life.

Download and Read

9. Lessons from the French Revolution

A case study from the time of the French Revolution when they introduced a ten-day week.

Download and Read

10. The Mark of the Beast and the Seal of God

A review of the biblical significance of the seal of God and the Mark of the Beast and how it affects the individual believer.

Download and Read

11. The Pattern of Sabbath Observance

A stylised map that shows the neighbourhood of nations in the Pacific, their relationship to each other, and their pattern of Sabbath observance.

Download and Read

12. Lunar or Seventh-day Sabbath for Samoa

A brief comparison and evaluation of three positions: does the Sabbath occur on Saturday or Sunday in Samoa, or does it float with the lunar cycle.

Download and Read

See also:

  1. What about a Lunar Sabbath?
  2. The Lunar Sabbath Theory
  3. The Lunar Sabbaths – The Big Lie


Further Reading Material

1. The Change of Day in Samoa - by Pr David Hay
3. Merritt Kellogg - Pr David Hay
4. The Seventh Day in Samoa - Pr Ray Coombe
5. BRC Statement on Tonga

Field Secretary